The new bosses are in the building: we all know what that means! They have come to win all of us over, but that is not always the case. Why? We will take a closer look here.

“Everybody listens to my command!“
Let us imagine that these people come into a team as the new leader – whether experienced or inexperienced in leadership – and from now on they are in command. After all, they now hold the position and the leadership title is written on their business cards. These people now call the shots and will probably get their way with more or less resistance, since they have a certain assertiveness due to their position. 

“I already know everything.“
“I am the one who explains how it works to you!“
These know-it-alls have experienced everything before, seen everything before and nobody can tell them anything. They make decisions based on their (professional) experience. These people will also be able to implement their ideas. They are in charge and already know everything.

These two types of leaders have the right to their leadership role because of their position. Employees accept these types of leaders because they have to. They are level 1 leaders, but according to John C. Maxwell’s leadership model, there is a lot of room for improvement.


5 Levels of Leadership

  • Level 1: Position (Rights)

    You have the authority to lead people because of your position, and they follow you because they have to. This does not mean that they want to. You have to work for this acceptance. Currently, you hold a position, but you do not necessarily fill it. Your leadership is not yet effective because your team is not going the extra mile.

  • Level 2: Permission (Relationships)

    You have managed to build a relationship with your team. You have engaged with individuals and given something of yourself away as well. Your employees follow you because they want to. They accept you as a leader because you are there for them.

  • Level 3: Production (Results)

    You create the right conditions for your employees, deliver results and achieve your goals. You are a role model, creating a positive and solution-oriented dynamic in the team. People follow you because you make a valuable contribution to them and the organization.

  • Level 4: People Development (Reproduction)

    You are a mentor for your team. You pass on your experience and support each individual in their further development. You promote individual strengths. In this way, you enable your employees to pass on their skills to new colleagues. This strengthens the team and makes them capable of solving problems themselves. People follow you because you develop them and let them grow.

  • Level 5: Pinnacle (Respect)

    You are authentic, stand up for your opinion and stand by your decisions. You say what you do and do what you say. People follow you because they respect what you stand for and what you have accomplished. They are loyal to you.

Work in progress

The 5 Levels of Leadership show that leadership is a work in progress. You have to earn the trust and loyalty of your employees every day, because they are not given to you because of your job title and position. However, if you follow a few tips derived from John C. Maxwell’s model, you will be a successful leader:

  • Take an interest in people and let them get to know you. In this way, you create a basis of trust, which is essential for effective collaboration.
  • Support your employees in not needing you. It sounds strange, but it is important to celebrate long-term success together. Empower your team to find solutions on their own.
  • Remember that as a leader, you are always a role model. The proverbial “preach water and drink wine” should be avoided.
  • Always be authentic, communicate, give feedback and listen to what your employees have to say.


Finally, let us remind you to reflect on the opening question again: where do you stand?